Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 81 Sacred Secret The Yucatán-born Mayan Café chef seemed surprised. I told Bruce Ucan that the Mayan salad at his NuLu restaurant was a favorite. The apple-crispy jicama, chunks of fresh orange and grapefruit, roasted pumpkin seeds, avocado, radishes, a bit of queso fresco and a honey-chile-lime vinaigrette are tossed into local mesclun greens. The salad makes me think of cooling off in the crystal-clear water of a cenote in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. The cold subterranean swimming holes, formed by collapsed limestone, dot the often bone-dry and baking-hot tropical brush. "Really?" Ucan said. The salad wasn't what customers raved about amid signature dishes like salbutes, tok-sel lima beans or cochinita pibil. In fact, he'd replaced my favorite salad months earlier with a kale-quinoa, mustard-vinaigrette version. Time to try something new. But Ucan, from the tiny town of Kantunil, near a number of cenotes, smiled at the memory of what the Mayans called sacred wells, some known only to locals. The salad isn't on the menu, he said, but anyone can still order it. Think of it as knowing the location of secret cenote. — Chris Kenning "This is what it looked like," says Jerry Gnagy, my co- worker at (and a co-owner of ) Against the Grain Brewery on East Main Street. He points to his black-and-white tattoo of a salad bar sneeze-guard blueprint. Dimensions of materials, building instructions, an outline for a pulley system, and designs for possible third leg support are inked permanently on his left forearm. Three years ago, Gnagy got the tattoo to commemorate a "special time" in his life. "It was ridiculous to have a salad bar in a brewery," he says about Bluegrass Brewing Co., where he worked before opening Against the Grain in 2011. His philosophy? If something displeases you greatly, you have two options. You can either let it eat you up inside, or you can embrace it. Considering his tattoo, Gnagy has been embracing salad bars for over a decade. Gnagy moved to Louisville in 2003 to take a brewing position at BBC. The manager of the restaurant decided to implement a lunchtime salad bar at the former St. Matthews location. "Our lunchtime crowd became very different. The Atria (senior living) bus started making a stop at BBC," Gnagy says. The BBC salad bar was makeshift: A folding table topped with a plastic boat-shaped vessel to hold a variety of classic salad-bar items. "They filled it with ice and six pans, and as the ice would melt, (the pans would) start to shift," he says. Then there was the sneeze guard that the chef constructed. "It was made out of two-by-six lumber and was built like it was going to go through a hurricane," he recalls. Every day at 2 p.m., BBC staff would disassemble the salad bar, stashing the 80-pound sneeze guard in the brewery, "which obviously infuriated me because it was in the way," Gnagy says. "Then there was the idea for a pulley system to raise it up and out of the way, and I thought that was just crazy." Since quitting BBC, Gnagy's history with the salad bar has become a lightning rod of inspiration for several beers he's made, like Saladbarity, a Baltic porter, and Bronan the Saladbarian, a barrel-aged imperial Baltic porter. He says one of his favorite salad-bar quotes is, "Take all you want but eat all you take." — Katie Molck Guy Goes Green… Sort Of Some friends and I wander into Guy Fieri's Smoke- house at Fourth Street Live! as a dad band covers "What I Like About You." I give my phone number to the hostess so she can send me a text when my ta- ble's ready. "Oh, you're from here!" she says excitedly. "We never get 502 numbers." The menu section "Greens & Chili Beans" has four salads. There's a standard garden salad, as well as a pretty ordinary Caesar and Cobb, both topped with smoked chicken. I contemplate the last one, and ask myself: Is this a salad? It's a warm dish of Brussels sprouts and sweet potato, pickled red onion, roasted red peppers and a heap of crispy, deep-fried onions, all tossed in a roasted shallot vinaigrette. I've watched enough Triple-D (you know, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) to know in my heart that Guy would tell me that, yes, it is a salad. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen Guy eat a leafy green that wasn't topping a juicy sandwich. I add the smoked chicken for good measure. The Garbage Can Nachos arrive first, to great fan- fare as diners at our neighboring table lean in to see the reveal. "This is technically a salad," my companion says as she digs into the cheesy mound of chips. — ME This Dude Has a Tattoo of a Salad Bar Sneeze Guard

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